Today’s students will be the leaders in the fight for equity and civil rights in the future.

That’s why the Buffalo Public Schools gave 70 of their students an opportunity to learn about and have an opportunity to connect with the history of the Civil Rights Movement during a recent trip to Alabama.

The students are all participants in the “Our Story Project,” a culturally responsive teaching program under the umbrella of Buffalo’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative. They spent four days touring significant sites in Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham.

In Birmingham, students reacted to a mural that depicted young people’s experiences with racism and oppression at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

They also visited the historic 16th Street Baptist Church, the site of the tragic church bombing that killed four young girls and was a turning point in the movement.

“The students listened attentively as they were told that the church had suffered two bombings, but their ancestors rebuilt both times because the church was everything to them,” said Fatima Morrell, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction for the Buffalo Public Schools. “It was their sanctuary.”

In Montgomery, the students toured the Civil Rights Memorial Center, where they added their names to the Wall of Tolerance, pledging to take an active stand against hate, injustice, and intolerance. At the Legacy Museum, students saw pictures, watched videos, and read letters of how systemic racism continues to affect people of color.

And in Selma, students re-enacted the historic walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, carrying signs that read “freedom” and “equality” as motorists honked their horns in support and agreement.

The trip ended with a visit to Alabama State University, a Historically Black College and University.

“This trip forever changed the lives of 70 young adults, who in turn will change the lives of the next generation, and so forth,” Morrell said.